STATE SENATOR JOHN SAMPSON AND THE OTHER DEMOCRATS IN ALBANY NEED TO SETTLE THE LEADERSHIP MESS IN THE SENATE: RIGHT NOW.
I have known John Sampson for near twenty years now. He is one of the most likeable politicians in Brooklyn. Period. He is not the type to make a lot of waves, nor is he the type to go looking for enemies, controversies or problems. He is essentially a diplomat. He is also a nice guy. He honestly tries to get along with all people. Unlike many elected blacks, he doesn’t harp on race and ethnicity - even though he skillfully played up his Caribbean-American heritage /ethnicity, to gain his initial victory fourteen years ago. His father was born in Guyana, South America; and his mother was an Afro from the South.
He tries to serve everyone fairly: no matter what creed, race, nationality, religion or ethnicity. There are few who seem to dislike him. And when you have been in the theatre of New York’s politics as long as I have been, you get to hear the lil gossips all the time: so you know who is popular and who isn’t; you know who is liked and who isn’t. There is always an element of some treachery in the theatre and on the political playgrounds. John has skillfully avoided many pitfalls on the way to his mercurial rise up the totem pole.
In the last cycle, when the democrats finally took over the state senate (32-30) from the republicans, there was ostensibly a crisis in leadership: it was obvious that Malcolm Smith (Queens) had a few detractors while he held the title of “majority leader”. That was further compounded when senators Monseratte, Diaz, Krueger and Espada did their flirtatious dances with the repugnicans: which in retrospect was more self-serving than constructive (there was potential for constructive engagement here). The understatement of the year would have been stating that the democrats were in disarray; and that there was a leadership crisis. They were. It took a while for them to get their act together. Even now, there are those who question whether or not they have gotten their act (all) together in the big house.
What emerged as an interesting compromise was the elevation of John Sampson to the position of senate conference leader of the dems. It has helped to maintain some calm within the conference. It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t ugly; but all things being equal: it was pretty ugly overall.
Since then things have been pretty orderly despite the rumors. And yes, there were many rumors: like Sampson and Smith quietly feuding behind the scenes (over control). Sometimes you have to wonder how these rumors get started! Speculation maybe?
But now, as another election cycle approaches, it is time for leaders of the state democrats to consolidate behind one leader. Let’s get away from this leadership by committee stuff. It is time to confer the title of majority leader to John Sampson. He has earned it with his calm and cool manner. He has earned it with his demeanor. His approach has been beyond reproach. His decorum has not been questioned.
John was a football player back in the day, so let’s put the football in his hand and advance up field. There are pressing issues facing this state. We need to get the players in position: right now
And now that the other titular leaders (Espada and Smith) are embroiled in controversy, it is time to clear the way for John to assume the mantle fully and solely. As new aspersions are cast -almost daily- on Smith and Espada, it is time to cut and run. Set these two adrift: do it now. Let John Sampson assume the role as senate majority leader: immediately.
The democrats in the state senate need to take care of this lil piece of business before we go on the road to consolidate recent election-gains. They also need to tell New Yorkers what their legislative goals for the next term are. Voters are tired. Voters are fed up. The state legislature has been dysfunctional for too long now. Let’s make a fresh start right here. There will be a new governor after November; so let’s get on the right track as soon as possible.
Stay tuned-in folks.
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